October 9, 2013
Sovereign Valley Farm, Pencahue, Chile
In August 1973, Jan-Erik Olsson walked into the main branch of Kreditbanken bank in central Stockholm, Sweden and attempted to rob the place at gunpoint.
He failed miserably. When the police arrived in short order, Olsson opened fire and injured one of the cops. This only escalated the situation.
In desperation, Olsson took four people hostage, and they were held for six days at the bank until police finally used gas to subdue the captors.
This sort of thing happens all the time, so it’s hardly noteworthy. But what’s unique about this event is that the hostages later said they actually felt safer with their captors than the police.
The victims had, in fact, become emotionally attached to Olsson and his partner, to the point that they even publicly defended the pair after the ordeal was over.
As it turns out, this is actually fairly common. Psychologists call this ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ after the Kreditbanken robbery; the term denotes a traumatic, positive bond that forms between captors and hostages.
To those of us who have never been held hostage, it almost seems fantastical… even intellectually offensive. Seriously, how could anyone ever develop endearing feelings for someone holding you at gunpoint?
But when you think about it, this is the very nature of patriotism.
Through an entire lifetime of bombastic propaganda, complete with songs and flags and parades, people develop an unquestioning commitment to the state.
They’ll say things like ‘this is the freest country in the world’ without a shred of objective evidence to support that conclusion… and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
But meanwhile, we’re all held at gunpoint.
Spy agencies monitor our phone calls and emails. Central bankers manipulate markets and destroy people who are responsible enough to save.
Politicians confiscate people’s livelihoods, regulate them to the hilt, authorize discretionary assassination of their own citizens, and actively work to destroy any vestiges of personal liberty.
While everyone is allowed to roam around, work, and buy flat-screen TVs, we’re all ultimately handcuffed by the state. Everything in our entire lives– from the value of our savings to our homes and personal property, to even our personal freedom– can all be confiscated in their sole discretion.
I’d be willing to bet the chickens scratching around my yard right now think that they’re free… and have no idea that they’ll be this evening’s dinner.
This is a hostage situation, plain and simple.
Yet they’ve skillfully managed to create bonds of affection. The hostages are standing tall, waving the flag, and defending the government’s absurd, destructive actions… no matter how much they defy reality.
It’s gotten to the point that the hostages have begun talking about government actions in the first person:
‘There’s no way “we” would ever default…’
‘In this country “we’re” innocent until proven guilty…’
‘Airport security makes “us” safer from terrorists…’
‘WE should invade Iran…’
Hostages have become so inured to the violence of our captors that few people even realize that it’s happening. The fear and intimidation tactics have just become part of daily life.
This is really hazardous thinking. Hostage situations are dangerous. When things start getting bad, the captors become desperate and start sacrificing their prisoners.
Candidly, our courses of action are limited.
One can simply hope that the situation will improve, and that you won’t be one of the hostages that gets slaughtered.
Conversely, you can head towards the big, giant EXIT sign and leave the whole situation behind for greener pastures.
Or, you can bear down and stick it out… but at least have a credible escape plan. Reduce your exposure to the captors. Don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.
It costs you nothing, for example, to move a portion of your savings abroad to a safe, stable bank in a jurisdiction that your home government does not control.
It costs you nothing to pursue an ‘ancestry’ passport in the event that your parents or grandparents hailed from certain countries like Ireland or Italy.
Yet in the event that the hostage crisis escalates, it’s these sorts of steps that will end up paying enormous dividends for you… and pave the way to freedom.